in this issue:
bush watch: REPORT CARD
congress: UNBORN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE ACT
fetal tissue research: PARKINSON’S DISEASE
former abortion providers: SOCIETY OF CENTURIONS OF AMERICA
human cloning: CLONAID
morning-after abortion pill: MODE OF ACTION; SURVEY
personhood: FETAL PROTECTION
siamese twins: ENGLAND – JODIE and MARY REVISITED
reflection for prayer: POPE GREGORY THE GREAT
REPORT CARD: Since George W. Bush took office in January, the following facts remain true:
- Stem cell research involving the destruction of human persons at their earliest stages of development continues in the private and public sector;
- RU-486 abortion chemicals continue to be available without opposition as Secretary of HHS Tommy Thompson explains that he has never heard of any health side effects;
- Mexico City policy fails to address abortions caused by chemicals and devices;
- Surgical abortion continues daily in America with a body count that exceeds 4,000 daily.
QUESTION: What’s wrong with this picture?
(Reading: “Thompson Ignores Documented Risk of RU-486 Death and Injury,” ALL news release, 4/19/01; “Despite Researchers’ Slave-owner Mentality, Embryonic Humans Are Persons, Not Property,” ALL news release, 4/18/01; “RU-486 Medicaid Abortion Funding: The Lie Continues,” ALL news release, 4/6/01; “Bush Could Reduce Abortions Overnight by Banning the ‘Morning-after’ Pill,” ALL news release, 2/7/01;; updates on various Bush Administration antics are also available from Republican Coalition for Life FaxNotes, issued weekly)
UNBORN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE ACT: Planned Parenthood’s “>Choice Action Network points out, “By defining ‘unborn child’ as ‘a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb,’ this bill could give separate federal protection to a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus.”
COMMENT: Amazing how truth escapes the architects of the culture of death. For example, the term “fertilized egg” is inaccurate and dehumanizing to the tiniest human person.
(Reading: “Stop the So-called ‘Unborn Victims of Violence’ Act,” Responsible Choices Action Network, 4/20/01, e-mail alert. Updates on the status of the bill, HR 503, can be found at US Congress)
fetal tissue research
PARKINSON’S DISEASE: Recent studies have shown that not only have fetal tissue transplants (tissue taken from 7- to 8-week-old embryos) failed to help victims of Parkinson’s disease, but such transplants have exacerbated problems for the victims and made the disease much worse.
In a commentary on the study, Fischbach and McKhann opine “It is unlikely, for both practical and biologic reasons, that transplantation of fragments of embryonic tissue will be the therapy of the future. In the present study, tissue from the midbrain of two embryos was injected on each side of the brain in each patient. Parkinson’s disease is not a rare disorder: estimates of prevalence in the United States range between 700,000 and 1 million. The number of fetuses required would be staggering, even if only a small proportion of the patients were to receive transplants. Moreover, heterogeneity within tissue fragments is a major barrier to reproducibility.”
(Reading “Doubts Over Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease,” The Lancet, 3/17/01, p. 859, search by title of editorial, text free after registration completed; “Transplantation of Embryonic Dopamine Neurons for Severe Parkinson’s Disease,” New England Journal of Medicine, 3/8/01, pp. 710-718, abstract free; full text requires paid subscription; “Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease,” New England Journal of Medicine, 3/8/01, pp. 763-765; “Fetal Tissue Transplants Cripple Patients,” National Catholic Register, 3/25/01)
former abortion providers
SOCIETY OF CENTURIONS OF AMERICA: Former abortion clinic nurse Joan Appleton has been instrumental in bringing the Society of Centurions, founded by Canadian Philip Ney, M.D., to the United States. To learn more about the members and their stories, see “Abortion Providers Share Their Stories“; to contact them directly, as they do not have a web site, write Society of Centurions of America, P.O. Box 75368, St. Paul, MN 55175 or call 651-771-1500.
CLONAID: The Raelian Religion cult leader, Rael, founded the first human cloning company, Clonaid, and has also supported the idea of human brain transplants, as currently being researched by Professor Robert White of Cleveland, Ohio. The chief human cloning researcher for Clonaid, Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, “resigned as a visiting chemistry professor” at Hamilton College so that she could devote full time to concentrate on cloning a human baby.
(Reading: “Upstate Prof Quits to Clone Humans,” New York Post, 4/5/01; “Rael Supports Brain Transplants,” PR Newswire, 4/10/01, and search “Rael”; also see Raelian web site)
morning-after abortion pill
MODE OF ACTION: Sister Paula Vandegaer, LCSW, founder of International Life Services, writes about the birth control treatment for rape victims: “The currently used hormonal treatment is Preven which is basically a high dosage birth control pill given within 12 hours and repeated. The ‘rationale’ given for prescribing Preven is ‘to prevent a pregnancy.’ However, if a woman is in the fertile phase of her menstrual cycle, the sperm may reach the egg in the fallopian tube within 15 minutes and fertilize the egg, (conception). If conception has occurred, Preven will interfere with implantation of the embryo in the uterus, thus acting as an abortifacient. If the rape occurred either before or after the woman’s fertile phase, taking Preven is useless since, outside the fertile phase, no egg is available for fertilization, and pregnancy is impossible.”
(Reading: “Introduction to Pregnancy Counseling,” Chapter 11, p. 113; to learn more, see International Life Service)
SURVEY: Of more than 100 pro-life groups surveyed by American Life League, the vast majority understand that the morning after pills can cause early abortion and explicitly condemn them for that reason; many affiliate groups of National Right to Life Committee, and the NRLC itself, do not.
(Reading: “Why Won’t NRLC Specifically Oppose Morning-after Abortion Pills?” ALL news release, 4/20/01)
FETAL PROTECTION: Earlier this year in Arkansas a jury convicted a man of “capital murder” for hiring others to beat his pregnant girlfriend and kill her fetus. The case marked the first time the state Fetal Protection Act was tested. The 1999 law allows “murder charges if a fetus is at least in the 12th week of gestation” and dies as the result of a violent crime.
QUESTION: Abortion is a violent crime, why does it exist? What about all those preborn Arkansans who are already alive but are NOT twelve weeks old? Does anyone care?
(Reading: “Man Who Got Others to Kill Fetus Convicted,” Pro Life Education Association of Maine News, 3/01; “Arkansas Man Gets Life in Prison for Killing Unborn Child,” Daily Catholic, 2/12/01; for similar stories that have been in the news, see People for Life of Erie, Pennsylvania)
ENGLAND — JODIE and MARY REVISITED: Bioethicist George Annas has analyzed the legal questions regarding the court decisions which overrode parental rights in Britain and gave doctors permission to take the life of one twin in the hope of saving the other twin. He opines, “The case seems to have been decided not on the basis of the law (which most of the judges found of little help) but on an intuitive judgment that the state of being a conjoined twin is a disease and that separation is the indicated treatment for it, at least if such treatment affords one of the twins a chance to live. The judges identified strongly with the physicians and had little empathy with the parents or their religious beliefs. I think all these factors led each judge to make problematic legal statements.” Annas defends the rights of parents to make the final decision even though he sees the taking of the life of one twin to allegedly benefit the other as “the lesser of two evils.”
A second ethicist comments, “The parents were neither incompetent nor negligent – the standard justifications for depriving parents of such authority – and their reasoning was not eccentric or merely religious, but was widely acceptable moral reasoning – as was the contrary moral reasoning justifying an operation. The court should thus have declined to deprive the parents of their normal responsibilities and rights in order to impose its own preferred resolution of the moral dilemma, and should have allowed the parents to refuse medical intervention – while still ruling as it did, that such separation would not have been unlawful had the parents consented.”
QUESTION: When is killing an innocent person a debatable question? When there are no moral absolutes universally respected by a civilized people.
(Reading: “Conjoined Twins — the Limits of Law at the Limits of Life,” New England Journal of Medicine, 4/5/01, pp. 1104-1108; “Imposed Separation of Conjoined Twins: Moral Hubris by the English Courts?” Journal of Medical Ethics, 2001:27, pp. 3-4)
reflection for prayer
POPE GREGORY THE GREAT (540-604AD): Commenting on how to acquire virtue, he writes, “Hence Paul warns his disciples, saying, ‘I want you to be wise in what is good but guileless in evil.’ And again, ‘do not be like boys in your thinking, but be like infants in evil.’ Thus the Truth himself bids his disciples, ‘Be wise as serpents and simple as doves.’ In this command he has deliberately joined the two ideas together: the serpent’s cunning compliments the dove’s simplicity, and the dove’s simplicity moderates the serpent’s cunning. This is why the Holy Spirit reveals his presence to men not only as a dove but also as fire. For the dove symbolizes simplicity, and the fire, intense dedication. Thus the dove and the fire, taken together, have a special significance: whoever is filled with the Spirit becomes so dedicated to this gentle simplicity that he is also aflame with the zeal of righteousness against the faults of sinners.”